NDE 4.0 Podcast Transcript
NDE 4.0 Podcast
Episode 4 — Joop Kraijesteijn — NDE 4.0 and the Real World
Floodlight Software: Welcome to the NDE 4.0 Podcast, where we ask five questions for an NDE/NDT expert. This is the show for NDE professionals, where we dig into the big questions about NDT inspections and digital transformation. Every episode, we ask an expert five questions that can help you do your job better.
Today we have Joop Kraijesteijn, president of 3angles, on our podcast today, and I’d like to welcome you, and could you provide a little background about your career with NDE, please?
Joop: Absolutely, Bruce. Thanks for having me on the show, I listened to the previous podcasts, and it’s a very interesting topic and I hope to address it a little bit in my own way. So my name is Joop Kraijesteijn. I was born and raised and educated in the Netherlands. I started my career in refrigeration and cooling but switched quickly after that to energy, in particular in power generation. So in 2003, I moved to the United States on a temporary assignment and I guess I’m still here. I started working for a Dutch company that specialized in consulting, engineering, testing, and inspection for everything related to power. They would consult and inspect power generation plants, transmission and distribution infrastructure. In 2003, I was asked if I was interested in helping them expand their business in the United States, and that’s how I moved to the U.S.
I got involved in surface testing, during my engineering career I got introduced a little bit, but in 2008 we were growing the business, we acquired an NDT company in New York. So in that process, I became responsible for integrating that team in the bigger company. We had a group of NDT resources in the Netherlands and now we have resources in the U.S., how could they work together, share resources, knowledge, technology, and provide services to our clients. Then about 2012, that Dutch company was acquired by a larger company and soon it became clear that there was not much future for us in that new setting. So my wife and I, at the end of 2012 started 3angles and we re-acquired the NDT business from my previous employer. So in 2013, that’s really when 3angles started. We are an NDT service provider, we focus on power generation so we inspect steam turbines, generators, gas turbines, and all related components. Hands-on NDT manual inspections through automated and robotics, all across the country and a little bit international.
Floodlight Software: Wow. Well, we have a great base of experience to talk with our audience about. So first of all, we’re very happy, since 2003 I think it was, that you stayed in the U.S. That sounds like a great move. Let’s dig right into it with our first question. Are you ready?
Okay. So let me pick up on the fact that you own and operate a company in the power gen area for NDT. In our previous podcast, we’ve been talking at the industry level, some pretty cool high-level stuff with IoT and machine learning and such. Now as a business owner, I think what we’re really looking to get at with our audience here is, what does NDE 4.0 mean to inspection companies and their customers? Can you reflect on that for a bit?
Joop: Yeah. Absolutely. So I did listen to the previous podcast and I met some of the speakers you had for conferences. So I got really introduced to the NDE 4.0 concept a couple of years ago. And I was really asking myself, “Yeah, what does it mean for me? For my business, for my technicians, for my clients, right?” So I kind of want to drill it down a bit. Three things, right? So, can you quickly improve the services you offer with new technology? And a good example is, we bought this new borescope that has wifi capability. So it’s not really rocket science. It’s just a scope with the capability to connect to the internet. So what immediately can you add as value to your clients by having a device like that, right?
So we had an inspection earlier this year, and we found some things we want to share with our clients. So traditionally, you would call the client and say, “Hey, we found something useful, can you send me a couple of pictures or maybe a video?” But in this case, what we could tell our client is, “Hey, are you behind your desk?” And he said, “Yes, why?” “We’ll send you a link, and you can log in to the inspection device and follow the inspection live. So we can show you exactly what we see at that very moment. So this is kind of an example of low-hanging fruit, if you think about it, right? I mean, it’s a technology and it’s on the market, and you just purchase it. And it’s kind of taking advantage of connectivity and the Internet of Things already, in a way. We’ve worked this into our banking and accounting systems already. So our banking on a common system should be able to connect and those charges would be automatically put on that product, right? So maybe that’s another thing of looking at it, you know? You can look at your internal processes, and make use of the technologies and connecting to different systems you have.
Floodlight Software: I like both of those examples. I can relate a little bit, with the connectivity that you were talking about before, where you see the information live. I was going to ask you as a follow-up question, is there a possibility of live data streaming? So I might as well get to it right now, because before you answer, I’m sure a lot of our audience has had this experience. But I went to a car dealer, to have my vehicle repaired. And they used that immediate connectivity, but when the technician was working on it, they streamed live the video of the areas he was looking at. And I heard it firsthand from the technician what he was seeing then and there. And it brought me into the process that made it so much different than coming back a few hours later and a service advisor telling me something. There was something about it being live and seeing what the technician saw at the same time. And later, I asked the service advisor about this use of technology, and he was telling me at the time, their internal processes had been transformed. Because it actually made their job a lot easier. So, coincidentally, you just connected on two things from another industry that perhaps could apply to NDE 4.0, in running an actual inspection company. But what are your thoughts?
Joop: No that is actually a great example. And I think we could improve our offerings to our clients tremendously. We had this project in the spring last year for a nuclear power plant. And the inspection was very, very critical. So, the inspection itself is called a bore sonic inspection. Just to kind of summarize it, we inspect the generator rode of forging by using a mechanical scanner, and we would move the mechanical scanner over some probes through the forging, through the boring of the forging of the generator, collecting the data. The ultrasonic data. So traditionally what we would do is we scan, collect all the data, then scan the data off-side from data filled rings. So just see what’s relevant, what’s not relevant. Then do our assessment of the data, an engineering evaluation and provide the client with kind of feedback from next inspection in the fall, or how many operating hours it still can run. So schedule’s tight, so we first were completing our scanning, then sent the data off site, then did the modeling, and then came back with the assessment. What if we can do that simultaneously, right? Stream your data as you acquire it, right. It goes directly to the engineer off site. He fills in the data, filtering relevant, irrelevant, and he already saw it. So by streamlining that data, that’s a tremendous time gain, and you get your client a faster answer to the relevant questions they ask.
Floodlight Software: Perfect. Perfect. Do you see the creation of any new services or perhaps revenue streams with the evolution of NDE 4.0?
Joop: I do, absolutely. I think the examples of low hanging fruit of the equipment that’s on the market you can buy. The second one is looking at the processes you do and automate those and make those smarter. But the third one is new service development. I think that is a real game-changer, but it’s also the more difficult one to really put your fingers on, right. And I think as a company, and companies in general, you really start properly doing it. It’s kind of defined for yourself, what this means. You need to create a roadmap. The opportunities are tremendous, but how do you really drill this down to what are your clients’ needs, what are the future needs, how can you anticipate it? And you have to kind of look at yourself and your business. Why are you in business? What’s your purpose? What’s your market look like now and in the coming years, right? Look at your processes. Can you anticipate what your clients’ needs will be five years from now and connecting all those dots? Will you still have the same clients that you have now? Because your clients are facing tremendous changes as well. Look at Industry 4.0, right, the way we do business now versus maybe how we shoot through business in the future. Where we tend to purchase hardware now, but maybe leasing it is much better, because technologies change so fast, right. So you can look at all those things. So what we kind of created for ourselves was try to look five years ahead. And we say okay, five years from now, 3angle, how do we do business and how does our market look like? And we came up kind of with some bullet points to work from.
Joop: I give you an example, so we say five years from now probably our systems will be connected, streamlining, talking to each other, using the internet of things. And maybe we have digital twins that we can compare data with right away. I think automated and robotic inspection will be really a core part of what we do. And though we’re still doing hands-on inspections, maybe we start making use of sensors and remote monitoring technology. And then, of course, all of our internal processing should be connected and just the way we do our business, but just in a nutshell, how we can transform our business. And if we do that we can kind of come up with other potential service offerings making use of NDE 4.0. In our industry power, wind and solar that’s coming into the mix, so what can we do there with NDE 4.0?
Floodlight Software: That’s true. Alternative energies is a whole other topic perhaps. To the point you made about creating a roadmap, is that something you guys have ever done with your customers in terms of what their future needs are, or do you think that that might be a possibility in terms of getting to NDE 4.0 and what it means from their perspective, as well as have to provide them new or better services?
Joop: That is actually a great point. We have not done that yet, right. So we do participate in industry conferences, and that will probably be a topic you can address, right. There’s a couple of conferences where power plant owners and operators come together, and they talk about their inspection needs in some of those conferences. It would be a great plenary session to discuss. But we have not really done it structurally like, “Let’s sell-off this information for my clients and we can structure around it.” But that would be very valuable. We did it more internally first, looked at our sales first. And that’s kind of how we can know our internal road map. But you’re actually right. It should be done the other way around as well.
Floodlight Software: Yeah, it just came to mind based on what you were talking about, the takeaway early on with the live data. And we haven’t spoken a lot about feeding data to each other. But obviously a platform in which data can be routed and streamlined, the whole handling of data from system to system per se rather than that intermediary step. Some steps that we think changed it. That’s where that step came from.
Joop: Correct. Yeah.
Floodlight Software: Speaking of workflows. Tell us about how automated content workflows will improve inspections and specifically the reports that the technicians are generating there at the power plant.
Joop: That’s a very good question in this setting as well. So I think for a lot of companies, this will still be a very necessary manual process with a lot of data entry forms, right? So in your contract if that’s somehow to a stat score, an information sheet through your technicians. And they will then use that information, how to inspect, which procedure to use. And that information then goes also, again, in your reports, right? So how can you take your hands around that process and automate it? And I think there’s a lot to gain there. Some of the reports, we generate for our customers are 300 pages and they have hundreds of pictures in them. So if you can you create a workflow system that your technician or technicians use when they go on site. They know exactly what needs to be inspected, this procedure to use. That’s already set into the report in section as well. Maybe that’s a handheld device. They start feeding the information. Next, they start taking pictures, which were put in place already in the right spots in your templated report form, right? So all these things that will tremendously speed up your reporting process and the challenge of making errors and data entry will be reduced as well. Yeah, that’s a great opportunity. We’ve been thinking about– could we develop an app even, that our clients could track the progress of an inspection? Well, think about it. And at the end of the day, that’s probably manageable. We have the progress of the initial result. You can create an app. While they’re working on their handheld, the clients are looking through the app and say, “Hey, so when the inspections have been done, some initials findings are already reported.” It gives them a lot of value as well, I think.
Floodlight Software: I like that comment in thought because we wanted– nobody likes to be blind. We like to see progress and or perhaps issues that when encountered, we may not be aware of and it could just be a communication lockup. Certainly, real-time access, perhaps even internally saying “Your supervisor’s seeing the progress your crews are making.” And the facility relative to the set work plans that maybe have some profitability factors built into being– at a certain point at a certain time. And certainly, as you say, for your end-user to see that. It keeps everybody informed. It may actually take quite a few phone calls and emails going back and forth.
Joop: No. It’s a good point. Especially for the project management’s perspective because of your boots on the ground who communicate with their peers on the client-side. In the office, we get our phone calls from, sometimes, higher-ups saying, “What’s going on here? What’s the progress? And you combine that in one tool and everybody’s on the same page. That would be tremendous, right. I think that’s a great opportunity there.
Floodlight Software: So at the beginning of that last question, you talked about a possibly 300-page report loaded with images. And I think about our world today in our COVID environment and one struggle is bandwidth of course. Like us doing this conference call or podcast today from our homes, we didn’t expect that a couple of months ago. But nevertheless, what are your thoughts, and I can’t help but asking, at this time in our life, but has the COVID-19 situation changed the way companies should think about NDE40 specifically?
Joop: I think yes. We were already on the road to change, right. I think the technology was there and all the developments are in place. But I think COVID-19 will be the catalyst to speed processes up, right. And that’s kind of how I look at it. I give you an example. We should report nuclear powerplant outages during the COVID-19 situation. They were really worried about, of course, with a lot of people on their sites that people might be infected by that, right. So they started to count out the number of people that do their end processing prior to starting the work. COVID changed the way they, nuclear security gate before you enter the plant. So I think we should anticipate even from our clients, instead of using a thousand contractors for an outage, they want to reduce that probably to 500, as an example, right. So for us, anticipate change as we normally send you four guys for an inspection, I want you to send only two but I still want to do the same time, the same quality and probability of detection. Can you do that? Start anticipating that and how do we do that? Can we use now the components of NDE 4.0 to make that happen? So that’s just one example I’m thinking about. Think about Level I or Level II technicians who as of now have never worked from home. I mean we come back from our projects, we come back we work on equipment maintenance, on hands-on stuff in the shop. But now we have to work from home. They’ve never done that before. So I have called them in the morning now and try to give them direction, what they can do from home. And that changes that perspective as well. So I think it’s really a catalyst for changes that probably were upon us anyway, but it’s going to be implemented maybe much faster. Another thing I thought about was clients, especially in the power industry are pretty conservative in implementing new technology and changes. That has to change maybe. So they might be more adaptable to new ways of inspecting parts.
Floodlight Software: All of it kind of comes back to what we were just talking about. The customer’s being pulled in to the same conversation about new ways of doing things or new services that would be offered from companies. Nothing like a common situation to put us together to brainstorm new ways of doing things.
Joop: I think if you look through history probably innovation kind of exponentially grows in crisis situations. It might be war, it might the situation we’re in now. You see how many companies making use of technology now to change the business operation. I needed to grab something from a store this weekend. I felt okay, normally I walked in the store. Online it would be a delivery time of five weeks, but they offered really curbside service. You order it and you can pick it up 30 minutes later. They changed their business model rapidly just by accommodating their clients. Because they want to keep making money and generate revenues, of course.
Floodlight Software: And for safety and regulatory factors. I want to comment on that too because I just went and did the grocery shopping with the online and I did the pickup, right, as you were talking about. So I did it for the first time. Interestingly, of course, that’s been out there for some time. So maybe there are two ways, there are the innovation and there’s adoption from laggards like myself of using the technology. Because I experienced it and I thought it was an awesome process. And I said to myself, “Why do I go to the grocery store anymore?” COVID or not this seems like a really good process. So I think it’s going to drive us together as an industry. Us as inspection companies to the end-users or the owners-operators, energy-operators adapt, innovate and adapt. Certainly interesting times. So we learned a lot.
Joop: The exponential growth of technology for its adaptability of [inaudible]. That gap has actually grown, right. So until now maybe COVID-19 helps us to break that gap because people also need to be more adaptable to using technology.
Floodlight Software: All true. How true. I’ve learned my lesson, I can tell you that. So we’ve covered a lot here. And from starting with what’s NDE 4.0 mean to companies, not just our industry. But we kind of came back to industries that include companies and suppliers, instrument suppliers, to operators, and it really means a lot. From connectivity to changing internal processes, adding value through different workflows that include content, and coming up with new services based on adapting, as well as innovation. And certainly, COVID is driving that, perhaps in a little more accelerated fashion than we had hoped for. But it’s been an excellent conversation. How can, and we’ll put this information on our podcast, but how can our audience best reach you afterward if they want to find out more?
Joop: I’m truly happy to provide it. And thanks for the opportunity again to be part of this podcast series. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation. So I’m on LinkedIn, so if you can spell my name you can find me there. But t may be easier is really to look at our website, 3anglesndt.com.
Floodlight Software: Excellent, excellent. Well, thank you so much for sharing your insights and your time today. Very much appreciated. Thank you.
Joop: Same here. Thanks, Bruce.
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